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How to Give a Speech


Speaking Tips     Overcoming Fear     Speech Writing     Wedding Speeches
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. - Collosians 4:6

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How To Give A Speech - Today I'm [not] Going to Talk About...

The first five seconds of your talk is probably the most important.  It's the single moment during your entire speech when you'll have the whole audience’s attention, even if just for a short time.

A similar 'magic moment' might be the start of a movie, in a big cinema, or the start of a Broadway/West End musical in a theatre:  When the lights dim and the curtain rolls back, there's a hush in the audience, an almost magical expectation - and for that brief time, there's usually absolute silence in the auditorium with all eyes and ears fixed to the front.

Public Speaking is no different - the only time during your presentation when you can be almost 100% that you have everybody's undivided attention, is right at the beginning of your talk. 

This is the prime real-estate for any public speaker.  It's the 'cream-of-the-crop', so to speak, it's your private little super bowl ad-time, and you need to maximize it completely.


Don't be like Suzy who, though knowing how to give a speech in general terms, starts with a generalized over-used platitude like "Thank you so much for blah blah blah..."  Unfortunately these kind of boring, generic beginnings come very natural to us because their very safe and familiar.

But they have zero attention-grabbing power to them, and their like nail-polish remover, washing away any potential 'stick' the audience might have had with you.

So try and stay away (as far as humanly possible) from...

"Thank you for this opportunity..."
"I feel honored to share with you..."
"I'm going to be talking about..."

… and any of the other, by now abused, phrases to start your speech with.  Using one of these is like building a sand castle on the prime piece of real-estate your audience has eagerly given you.

No, start strong; be bold enough to use a different and preferably more relevant (with regard to your content) and exciting headline to start your speech with. 

Admittedly, this takes more courage than simply whimpering out a "Thank you so much for your kindness, today I'll be...", but the gain is manifold and the results will be worth it.

A strong start or a bold and captivating opening headline will...

Set you apart from the bulk of mediocre speakers ("This is different, this guy must know his stuff")

-  Keep them focused, at least initially ("I recognize authority here, authority usually means someone knows what he's talking about, let's listen...)

-  Grab your audience’s attention immediately ("I was going to keep on doodling in my notebook, but this might actually be worth listening to...")

So use your prime real-estate wisely, and start your speech strong.

What does a bold headline look like?  How do you generate an opening phrase that will grab your audience attention and set a strong pace for your entire speech?

I'm glad you asked, now read the speech headline article for some more answers on how to give a speech that'll stun from minute one.

Also read this article for more practical ideas on starting your speech strong and captivating your audience from line one.

For more presentation tips to help you make those public speaking sessions better and better, you can also have a look at this (opens in a new tab) presentation tips article.
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There are certain moments in any presentation that are crucial and that - when utilized properly, will benefit your outcomes, or kill your speech and put your audience to sleep.
How to Give a Speech
And let's stop right there, leave Suzy on the platform for a minute and do some analysis...

Indeed there's no need to suffer through the rest of Suzy's speech since she's already given an indication that it's probably going to hold relatively low ratings for excitement and engagement.

Why?  Because she's already made a big mistake by starting with a platitude.
When learning on how to give a speech, you need to be aware of these:  So one such moment, which I talked about elsewhere, is the "holy cow!" moment that many world-class speakers use to their advantage. 

But let's have a look at another such moment that may just make or break your entire presentation, since it sets the pace for the whole thing.

But first, a "how to give a speech" lesson, from the life of Suzy:

Suzy has to give her first ever public address at an annual brainstorming breakfast for the marketing firm where she's been climbing the corporate ladder for the last four years.  She's as nervous as anything, going over her notes five times per minute, and trying real hard to keep herself composed, but fidgeting so much that anyone can see she's suffering from acute Butterfly migration:

Finally, the host calls her forward and she gathers her courage, climbs the stage and gets behind the lectern, speech in hand, a hundred or so expectant eyes on her, and then she starts...

"Thank you so much for this opportunity to speak to you all.  Today, I'm going to talk about..."